Monthly Meeting Minutes –  Jersey Lily’s Salem, VA

October 15, 2021



Marian McConnell – Chair                                 Lauren Appel – Vice Chair                 Mary Sue Socky – Secretary

Dave Socky - Treasurer                                       Kevin Johnson                                      Nick Schmalenberger

Susan Burr                                                            *Pat Banks                                             *Beth Banks

Carl Cornett                                                          *Erin  Bejjani                                         *Ahmed Alkarboly

*Tracy Martino                                                     *John Martino

                                                                                                (* denotes guest)                      


Meeting called to order 6:49p by Chair Marian McConnell.


Trip reports:

9/18: Buckeye Creek Cave, WV. Participants included Erin Bejjani, Jeff Huffman, Doug Feller, Trish Geiger (WVACS Member), Nick Schmalenberger, Kelly Perkins, Brandon and Candyce Phibbs.  This was Erin’s first cave trip with BRG.  It was WET  Going through the low spot (the Watergate) was awful.  It smelled really bad!   After the low spot, we went into the upper levels, which involved lots of climbing.  Erin had never done free-climbing before.  Good trip.


9/18: Helectite Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Amos Mincin, Brian Mayfield, Sophia Reap Tress, Jeremy Hess, Alicia Bateman, Tomas B Hawkins, Ethan Radcliffe, Alex Nagl, and one other. Amos took a bunch of cavers from Philly Grotto to Super Sweet dig. Amos and I did three straws as set up for the dig and checked out the actual way on. Lots of digging to do to continue. The first part of the entry tunnel was wet, about a foot of water, so everyone got wet. People were cold and enthusiasm was low, so we made a pretty short trip out of it - about 7.5 hours.


10/1 – 10/3: Burja Cave, VA. Petra Project: Cat recovery: Participants included Dave Socky, Alex Hastings, Katarina Ficco, Mike Ficco, Joe Myre, Lauren Satterfield, Wil Orndorff, Zenah Orndorff, Mike Futrell, Andrea Futrell, Tom Malabad. We spent two days in Burja Cave extracting and removing the cat skeleton, thought to be an American Cheetah. The third day was to retrieve the rest of the gear left at the entrance and lug it up the hill. See the Carbide Dump Oct. 2021 for full article.


10/9: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, Meredith Blanco, and Sydney Hansen. Railroad team: Nick Socky, Alex Faunce, Penelope Vorster, and Jean-Philippe Ouellet. Our team finished the upper-level part of the passage at the end of the First Breakdown, where it ties into the overlook from the Batbone Crawl. We then did an upper-level narrow passage that extends northeast and south from the backend of the First Breakdown. Our passage was mostly walking, about 4 feet wide and 7 to 8 feet high, with a trickle stream over a cobble floor. We left one side lead which takes off to the right from DFS43. We did reach an end for the main way we surveyed. Nick's team surveyed the 'Railroad Tunnel' plus a side lead off the main entrance canyon. It was a good and easy 11-hour trip that netted 1074 feet of survey.      


10/14: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Penelope Vorster. We cleaned up side leads and loops upstream from the Latte Room. We actually got 50 stations (65 shots) and came away with 584 feet of new cave. It was a fun and easy 8.5 hour trip, with our survey less than an hour from the entrance.      


Ahmed Akarboly, a caver recently from TX, introduced himself and related to BRG of some of the caves he had visited when he attended Texas A&M.  Nice vertical caves!  Dave Socky had also been to a few of them. 


Pat Banks, one of the “before BRG cavers” who went caving with Al Stewart while attending Roanoke Technical School (pre-WVCC), told BRG a little about the old caving days, going to Unthanks and Gilley Cave with Al, and that one of his favorite caves to visit was Paxton Cave, VA. 



Tomorrow Sat. 10/16/2021:  BRG trip to Paxton Cave, VA.


Next Month’s Trip – Porter Cave, Bath Co. VA.  See Susan Burr for info and sign-up





10/15/2021 BRG Treasury Report – Dave Socky, Treasurer

Fund Amounts 

Cave Bucks          $   201.00

Conservation     $        0.00

Equipment          $   104.12

General               $ 3,183.32

Total                           $3,488.44 


*Cave Bucks:  All Cave Bucks donations are voluntary; funds go to cave conservation programs.


Membership – We have a membership application to vote on.

ROCKS –  nothing

Safety & Techniques –  nothing. 


Membership Proposals:   Larry Manning, NSS 37229, has applied for BRG membership.  Larry’s sponsor is Doug Feller.  Trish Geiger seconded Doug’s motion: Larry’s membership was tabled until the October 15 BRG meeting.   Well, Larry could not make the meeting, but he has been caving with many grotto members.  Larry Manning was voted in unanimously by the Regular BRG members present.  Welcome, Larry! 


Old Business:

·         BRG Christmas/landowner cards – are here!  Marian passed around one of the cards for everyone to admire. Thanks to everyone who responded to the email on deciding to go with the early order discount.

·         No progress on Al Stewart’s caving books auctioned off to the BRG community.  Al has been extremely ill; he is in the hospital. 

o    There was some discussion on how the cave book auction would be held:  Decided: On-line., is open to BRG members first, then other cavers.  The auction should last a month. 

o    Dave Socky offered to do the on-line auction.  He will create a  PDF file on the books (title, author, description, condition) in about a month.  He promises to KISS (Keep it simple).

o    Carl Cornett has several books he wishes to donate to the auction, too.  Thanks, Carl!

·         Grotto Nominations:  Revisited: All current officers may serve one more year of their term if they so desire. 

·         Nominations were opened on Sept. 17, 2021:

Chair: Marian McConnell

Vice Chair: Lauren Appel;  Nick Schmalenberger was nominated for V.C. 

Secretary: Mary Sue Socky

Treasurer: David Socky

o    During the October 15 meeting, Nick Schmalenberger decided to withdraw his nomination for 2022.   The current officers are willing to serve a second term. 

Nominations remain open until the November 19 BRG meeting.   You must be a BRG member and an NSS member to hold grotto office.    Please consider running for BRG office.


New Business

·         Mary Socky proposed that BRG donate to one of three NSS funds – Save the Caves, New River Cave Preserve, or Junior Speleological Society (JSS) in John Fox’s memory.  After discussion it was suggested by Susan Burr that BRG donate $100.00 to the JSS in memory of John Fox.  BRG regular members voted YES  7-0 -PASSED.


·         Conservation Donations – Both MAKC (Mid Atlantic Karst Conservancy) and WVCC (WV Cave Conservancy) lost major fundraising opportunities due to OTR  and other events being cancelled.  They have requested direct donations.  BRG Regular members voted 7-0 to divide the Cave Bucks fund and send half to each cave conservancy.  PASSED.


·         Meeting place in 2022 – Does BRG want to continue meeting at Jersey Lily’s?  Vote -YES.  JL’s is much better since they got rid of the smoking bar.  MSSocky was instructed to book the 3rd Friday of Each Month in 2022 – we can always cancel a monthly reservation ahead of time if we give them enough notice.


·         Future meetings and WiFi  for Zoom meetings   

o    Nick Schmalenberger wished to revisit the idea of meeting at a place with a WiFi hotspot.  (JL’s does not have WiFi).

o    Lauren Appel mentioned it would be nice to be able to show on-line programs – but WiFi is needed.

o    Dave Socky said if someone could do a Wi-Fi hotspot on their phone, we could watch YouTube caving videos. 

·         (NEW BUSINESS – cont.)

o    Nick also mentioned that he can host a WiFi hot spot, and get You Tube on his smart phone.

o    If we could get WiFi, Who (BRG member) would run that part of the meeting, each month?

o    How would we set up, view a Zoom meeting in our current meeting room?

o    Chair Marian McConnell asked that Nick check into the feasibility of hosting & WiFi hot spots for Zoom meetings.

§  NOTE: free Zoom meetings hosted through the NSS end in 2022.

o    Nick Schmalenberger mentioned Lydia’s did have WiFi.  Has anyone dined at Lydia’s’? 

o    Chair McConnell also mentioned that if anyone wants to propose a new meeting place, we need to know if there is a charge for the meeting room area, or if they have a minimum food order/attendance, can accommodate our group size (7-20 people). Tabled.   Discussion will be continued at future meetings.  


·         VAR Fall Zoom meeting this Sunday 10/17/2021, 4p.  The info about the VAR meeting was sent in an email a few days ago.  Each grotto should send delegates.  All cavers are welcome to attend.    See PDF attached. 

·         Caroling in the Caverns – Grand Caverns is holding a smaller caroling event in the caverns during the evenings of Dec. 4, 11, & 18.  By reserved tickets.  Six cavers are needed 4p -10p each night to light, set up and take down candles and be ‘guardian angels’.  Mary Socky hopes to go up and volunteer for one of the nights.  Is anyone else from BRG interested in helping?   Let Carol Tiderman know. 

·         Keith & Lisa Goggin are planning their post-Christmas party (and bonfire).  BRG is invited; date and details TBA.



·         Please sign sympathy cards for the families of Chuck Yech and Julie Russell, cavers who have recently passed away.

·         Please sign Get Well cards for Duane Owen and Al Stewart.

·         NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR) will be held at the Blacksburg Rescue Squad in Blacksburg, VA,    Oct. 22-24, 2021. Cost $60.00.  Must have proof of vaccination. 

·         Pandemic Caving – let’s be healthy going underground.  Rules have been posted in the DUMP.

·         Winter closure for bat caves in West Virginia begins Sept. 1.

·         Winter cave closure for bat caves in Virginia begins Oct. 15.    Please respect all cave closures.



·         Oct 15 BRG meeting, 6:30p, Jersey Lily’s-Salem.

·         Oct. 15-17 – Roanoke GO FEST, downtown Roanoke, VA, 

·         Oct. 22-24 - NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR), Blacksburg, WV.

·          Nov 13 – WVCC Banquet, Lewisburg, WV.  cancelled

·          Nov 19 - BRG meeting, 6:30p.  Jersey Lily’s- Salem. Elections.

·         Dec 4, 2021 - Virginia Cave Board meeting, @ James Madison University in Harrisonburg VA.

·         Dec 12 – BRG Winter Party, 10a – 5p,  potluck, Dan & Marian’s house in Catawba. 



·         Jan  21  BRG meeting

·         Feb 18  BRG meeting.

·         May 20-22, 2022 – Spring VAR/MAR, @ Grand Caverns (rescheduled)

·         June 13-17, 2022 – NSS Convention, Rapid City SD.

·         Jul 16- 21, 2022 – NEW!  NCRC National Weeklong, which will be held in Covington, VA. 

Meeting adjourned 7:45p, followed by

 Program:  “Petra Project - Discovery of Large Cat Skeleton, Burja Cave, VA. ” by Dave Socky.    


Elvis Left the Building  8:20p.


Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary